kernel killing processes when out of swap

Steven Hartland killing at
Mon Apr 11 09:41:24 PDT 2005

Just had a problem with a box where it looks like it ran out of swap due
to a problem process, not a problem. The problem was that it seems
the kernel on detecting this starts killing off seeming random processes,
the first one being sshd hence making the machine inaccessible.

So the question is: Does the kernel kill random processes when out of
swap or does it kill any processes that require more memory when out
of swap? Which leads to the question would it not be more sensible to
kill off the largest process first as its more than likely that it is responsible
for the problem?

Apr 10 20:09:25 appledore kernel: pid 414 (sshd), uid 0, was killed: out of swap space


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